Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Self Inflicted

Recently, I was told to put on my heating-repair-guru hat, and go try solve the chilly woes of a tenant. This guy rents several thousand square feet of warehousing plus an office from us. He grumbles, bitches  and moans, perpetually, about every little thing. A squeaking door hinge, a flickering light, a smell nobody else can detect. Usually these complaints come just after he's received a reminder that his rent payment is overdue. He rents the building on what is referred to as a full repairing lease, meaning that he's responsible for the interior state of the buildings, anything that fails or needs maintenance is up to him, when the lease ends, or is renewed, the premises must be in as good a state of repair and decoration as they were when the lease was signed.
We will do all the works, if required, and charge them to the tenant. This guy chose to get another contractor to do his heating service and repair, because he thought we were too expensive.
So, since the end of september, his heating in the warehouse has not worked. He got his contractor to service it, and the guy issued a certificate to say all was working correctly. He got his contractor to come back and fault-find the unit. Their diagnosis was that the ignition-control unit was shot, and very expensive to replace. They quoted him several thousand pounds for a new heater, which they said was only sensible, as, if they replaced the ignition, who could say something else, like the gas-valve, might be just waiting to expire? He hired mobile, (and expensive to run), heaters for his warehouse staff but only after they'd threatened to walk out.
Then, as a last resort, he rang our office and asked for me to come and quote for fixing the problem.
I started by undoing two screws, on the timer control, this is what I found.
Can you, dear reader, repair the heater for a minimal fee? In ten seconds or less?
Might the service contractor be either: a- incompetent, or: b- dishonest?
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  1. Well, no I couldn't "repair" it, but I think I could solve his problem. :)

    What I would do if I were him (and I am admittedly probably much more vengeful than he is) would be to make sure it works fine when it is turned on, in front of professional witnesses such as yourself, along with a couple state fraud inspectors and trades board licensors, or your equivalent, and then call that contractor in to put in writing what he intends to do - replace the unit. Although it is unlikely he will be charged with fraud, he should at least lose his contractors license.

    At the very least, the tenent owes that much to the next non-mechanically-inclined dumbass that this contractor feeds and preys upon.

  2. Or not.

    The tenet is probably aggravating enough to deserve whatever he gets. Go ahead and replace the thermostat and bill him.

    I know, I know.

  3. Max: I have to write a report based on my inspection of the installation and my diagnosis of the 'faults' found. This report is not on my hurry list, it'll happen at some time when I'm not busy.
    He'll be charged for my time.

    What he does with that report is up to him. We have a local government department called the Trading Standards Office. They should get involved, and would, hopefully, institude a prosecution if they think this was an instance of fraudulent behaviour.
    There's also a national register of persons qualified to work on gas systems. They should look into the company's other jobs, and perhaps remove the company from the register, which means they are not any longer permitted to work on any equipent using gas, or pipework for conveying gas.
    Either way it all hinges on whether it's fraud or just incompetence.

    My own personal feeling is that I'm amused that mister bigshot, who said "Oh, no, I'll get my own contactors in", has been hoist by his own petard.

    I don't need to replace the thermostat. I just turned it up to a normal workplace temperature.

  4. Well, I know you didn't NEED to replace the thermostat. Sigh.

    Buy since you are getting paid for your time anyway, it ends well.


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